By Marites N. Sison
Nine-year-old Maryam Al-Masri, who was wounded in an Israeli air strike, comforts her grandmother as she lies in bed at a hospital in Gaza City. Photo: Reuters/Mohammed Salem
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has issued an appeal for Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, which has been responding to the needs of civilians wounded and displaced by the ongoing Israeli operations against Palestinian militants.
Meanwhile, Anglican diocese of Ottawa bishop John Chapman is urging Canadian Anglicans to pray for an end to the violence and bloodshed in Israel and Palestine, and for the resumption of the peace process. Chapman also urged Anglicans to respond to the appeal for the hospital, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which is supported by his diocese. (The diocese of Ottawa is in a companion relationship with the diocese of Jerusalem.)
PWRDF, the relief and development arm of the Anglican Church of Canada, has also sent an initial grant of $25,000 to Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), which has been providing support to the hospital in the form of fuel, medications, medical supplies and psychosocial support for thousands of women and children affected by the offensive. Both PWRDF and NCA are members of the Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance, a grouping of church-based agencies responding to humanitarian needs worldwide. (To donate, see information at the end of this article.)
The appeal is being made in response to a call for assistance by the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, who updated Anglican Church of Canada leaders about the situation in Gaza in a letter.
“In the last two days, the impact of the air strikes has caused structural damages to the hospital, including its ventilation system in the operating theatre and the emergency room,” wrote Dawani. “…Windows have been broken in many buildings, as well as the new diagnostic center.” Like other hospitals in Gaza, Al-Ahli is running out of medicine, food for patients and fuel for electric generators, he added. Notwithstanding safety issues and lack of supplies, staff have maintained their round-the-clock presence and continue to receive patients, said Dawani. Chapman described the staff efforts as nothing short of heroic.
Dawani added that the Israeli government’s call for 40,000 reserve troops has triggered fears that the conflict—now on its eighth day—can only escalate.
In the last 36 hours, he said 500 tons of explosives have been dropped in Gaza “on an area that is the most densely populated in the world, and home to 1.7 million Palestinians.” Children comprise half of Gaza’s population.
At least 168 Palestinians have been killed, 133 of them civilian, and 1,140 others wounded, including 297 children, according to Dawani, quoting statistics from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). About 17,000 others have fled their homes.
Meanwhile, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and ACT Alliance are calling on the international community to demand an end to the ongoing violence between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
“We strongly condemn the indiscriminate attacks by Israeli military on the civilian population in Gaza, as we absolutely condemn the absurd and immoral firing of rockets by militants from Gaza to populated areas in Israel,” said a statement issued by Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary. The WCC is an ecumenical organization with members from over 350 Christian churches (including the Anglican Church of Canada) from more than 110 countries and territories. It represents more than 560 million Christians.
The WCC Central Committee has expressed “deep sorrow and concern” over the escalation of violence, said Tveit. The bombardments, now on their eighth day, have killed over 176 Palestinians and injured nearly 1,300, according to media reports. No Israeli fatalities have been reported.
“Both Israelis and Palestinians require their well-being, security and a just and genuine peace,” said Tveit. “The recent failure of the negotiations and the loss of prospects for a two-state solution and the end of occupation, as well as a just peace and vision of a common future, have led to the unbearable and infernal cycle of violence and hatred that we are witnessing today.”
Tveit urged churches and religious leaders to work together “to transform the discourse of hatred and revenge that is spreading more and more in many circles in society into one that sees the other as neighbour and as equal brother and sister in one God.”
ACT Alliance General Secretary John Nduna said the United Nations and parties to the conflict must facilitate access so that aid agencies can attend to humanitarian needs.
“Once again, it is innocent men, women and children who are suffering and paying the ultimate price for the failure of the politicians,” said Nduna in a statement. “We condemn without reservation any attacks on civilians irrespective of their faith, ethnicity, or nationality, and condemn the use of civilians as human shields. This escalation of violent conflict is a reminder to us all that grief and pain are never far away for Israelis and Palestinians.”
To donate to PWRDF’s Gaza response:
Designate your online donation for “Gaza Response”
For credit card donations, contact:
416-924-9199 ext. 355 or 1-866-308-7973
Please do not send your credit card number by email or fax.
Please make cheques payable to “PWRDF” and mark them for “Gaza” and mail them to:
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
The Anglican Church of Canada
80 Hayden St., Toronto, ON
Anglican Journal News, July 15, 2014